CUMBERLAND — A snowstorm expected to pass through the region Wednesday has the potential to be a doozy, with estimated accumulation totals ranging from a foot to 18 inches in the Cumberland area, forecasters said.
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for the region early Tuesday that takes effect at 7 a.m. Wednesday and continues through 4 a.m. Thursday.
“The Cumberland area will end up with about 8 inches of snow, likely starting between 9 a.m. and noon on Wednesday,” said Chad Merrill, a city native who is now the Hagerstown Town and Country Almanack meteorologist. “The heaviest snow will be during the mid-to-late afternoon and then taper off by midnight or so early Thursday.”
The last time the Cumberland area received a significant accumulation of snow was in January 2016 when a storm dropped nearly 2 feet to some parts of the region.
There is the potential, however, Merrill said, for some sleet to get in the mix in the late afternoon, which would tamp down snow totals. Sleet pellets tend to pack down snow and leave a fine layer of ice, but not to the same extent as freezing rain, which accretes on tree branches, weighing them down and causing problems, he said.
With it being sleet pellets rather than freezing rain, the chances of there being too many power outages could be lower.
“There is going to be refreezing of melted snow; there will be slushy spots on the road,” said Merrill. “The roads will turn snow-covered, I think. It’s going to come down fast enough where the interstates are going to get snow cover as well during the afternoon, sometime between like 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. probably.”
The snow itself looks like it should be of the fine and powdery variety and not the heavy and wet stuff, he said.
The concern with powdery snow is drifting, but the forecast is calling for light winds, which should cut back on the blowing and drifting.
Higher elevations — Frostburg, LaVale, Haystack Mountain and toward Rocky Gap — could see closer to a foot of snow. And in parts of Garrett County it could add up to 15 inches before it’s all over, Merrill said.
The sky should clear out before daybreak Thursday, and when the storm ends, there will likely be black ice spots on untreated surfaces. The cycle of overnight freeze, melting during the day, could continue on into Friday morning, said the meteorologist.
“Overall, the jackpot for this storm will be out west of Interstate 81,” said Merrill, “the Cumberland area.”
Forecasts show some areas in the East, depending on storm track, could receive up to 30 inches of snow.